It was Field Day week for us last week. Lots of running and playing and fun was had by all. These photos seemed appropriate for today. Thanks Eric for taking so many fantastic photos of Willow’s Field Day while I was busy trying to keep all the kindergarteners running in the right directions!
I don’t know exactly when or why it happened, but something has shifted inside of me. I have been making personal changes right and left in recent days. It’s a little crazy really, but I am feeling amazing, so naturally, I had to come here and share them with you!
I spontaneously decided I needed to become a morning person and say good-bye to my night owl ways. I naturally tend to stay up until 1 or 2am then find myself forever dragging the next day. While in the thick of my struggle with Lyme Disease I tried to let myself sleep whenever I was tired, and developed the oh, so unproductive habit of a completely unregulated sleep pattern. One day last week I woke (late) and wondered, while I was rushing around trying to get the kids off to school on time, why the heck I was doing what I was doing. Frankly, I got fed up of missing out on life with my kids – I don’t want them to remember me as the mom who slept all the time. My Lyme is manageable at this moment in time so I have no excuse. I found myself setting my alarm for 5:30. AM. I was shocked when I found myself shutting it off and sitting up to start the day instead of rolling over and going back to sleep. It just felt like the right thing to do.
The first few days I could not, for the life of me, fall asleep early enough to get a full night of rest before that ugly alarm went off again, but I knew that eventually my body would stop compensating and start sleeping when it should. I just had to keep pulling myself out of bed at the same time every morning and keep the napping to a single twenty minute power nap when I need a quick recharge. It’s working! I fell asleep last night by 10pm without a problem and greeted the day easily when that alarm sounded. Yay!
I didn’t announce my intentions to my family before I started this new routine because I didn’t want them to be disappointed in me if I couldn’t do it. Let’s just say they have all been pleasantly surprised to find Mama up before the sun happily packing their lunches and stirring their oatmeal when they find their way to the kitchen first thing in the morning. I love that the tone of our day is set with calm and laughter instead of the rushing and yelling that used to populate our mornings. I’m also treasuring the extra time my early rising allows with my big kids before they head off into their days. Kissing my hubby good-bye isn’t so bad either!
I tend to bite life off in big chunks, so it should come as no surprise that I also decided to establish a few other new habits while I was at it. I now stop eating after 7pm so my digestive track can have a decent rest each night. I like to snack late into the evening but inevitably end up with reflux and discomfort all night and still feel full in the morning. It’s such an unhealthy cycle to get caught in, especially with a sensitive system like mine. The change I have felt has been remarkable! I wake up feeling hungry and ready for my day instead of full and sluggish and yucky. Such a simple thing – a nightly fast – has completely eliminated some of the lingering digestive issues I have struggled with for years.
I’m also finding time, with all of these extra hours my day, to start working on getting my fitness groove back. Once upon a time I ran, I rock climbed, I did yoga. There was hardly a day that went by that I didn’t do something active. Again, it was easy to rationalize some bad habits over the years – I had kids, a whole bunch of kids – and a serious health issue. Now, all of my kids are old enough to keep themselves occupied for an hour and while my health isn’t perfect, I am definitely well enough to do some regular exercise. I know in the long run I will feel better both physically and mentally if I work to stay strong and vital. So far I have been doing whatever sounds like fun each day – some yoga, some pilates. Today I even popped in my husband’s Insanity workout (on the computer – remember, no TV) and worked up a serious sweat.
As if that wasn’t enough change, I’m also trying to finally, finally, release the hold that sugar has on me. My intake of sugar has a huge impact on the inflammation I feel from my Lyme Disease. It’s a simple equation, the more sugar I eat the more pain I feel. So, “Bye-bye sugar!” I am even trying to limit the amount of sugar I am eating from fruit. Dates taste like candy bars now, so it’s easy to satisfy my sweet tooth without going overboard. The lingering pain I have in my facial nerve is lessening and I’m hoping this sugar detox continues to increase my feeling of health and wellness. I refuse to let Lyme limit me anymore.
I am feeling more and more like myself again after this most recent relapse of Lyme. That shift I have experienced feels very profound and still a bit hard to articulate, but at the same time it feels very certain. It feels like I have been able to grab the reigns back from the nebulous uncertainty that has been driving my life. I feel like, for the first time in a very long time, I am leading the way and directing the flow of my precious life energy. Lyme be damned.
With our family determined to move against the strong tide of mediocrity, I need to be prepared both mentally and physically for the journey. I need to be able to lead the way with strength and consistency. I know that I tend to be let things ebb and flow in my life, so I am determined this time to make these changes part of our new simple lifestyle.
Sleep well, eat well, care for my body – that’s my new personal rally cry.
I want to set an admirable example for my children by maintaining my value as an individual within this family unit of ours. I need to value not only my creative spirit, but the body that acts as its home. This is not a brand new idea to me, rather a renewed intention and a call to action. I deserve to feel well and so do you!
Who’s up to joining me with this rally cry? I would love to hear how you make yourself – your body and your wellness – a priority within your busy family/life. Let’s share and support each other!
:: grateful for the rain that fell so cold and wet yesterday. I could almost hear the plants and trees and flowers stretch up to great it as the Earth sighed in relief.
:: treasuring the image of Sage splish-splashing in the puddles. She is joyful wherever she finds herself. I admire her so.
:: excited to reveal my latest project to you… Soon, very soon!
:: woke up with thoughts of sweet new babies on my mind. I miss the smell and feel of little tiny people so much, I simply burst with excitement when I learn of friends who are growing precious seeds in their bellies.
:: comforted by the rhythmic sounds of my washer and dryer – they are my constant parenting companions.
:: hearing all sorts of interesting sounds wafting up from our art space. I wonder what they are up to down there?
:: looking forward to spending some grown-up time with a good friend this evening after my little people have been tucked into bed. Hot tea and meaningful conversation, here I come!
:: missing my sweet hubby and hope he is relishing in the pleasure of travel to far off places.
:: thinking it may be time to finally corner Oliver and plop him in a bath. Our scruffy dog is getting a bit too scruffy, even for me.
:: craving a big bowl of crunchy sweet granola warm from the oven. I wonder if I have enough coconut to whip up a quick batch?
:: realizing it has been way too long since I’ve read a really-juicy-can’t-put-it-down kind of book. Any suggestions?
:: longing for a good stretch and the smell of sweet sandalwood. I think it is time to unfurl my yoga mat, light some incense, and salute the sun – even if it is veiled behind a layer of smokey grey clouds.
:: am being visited by a freshly minted four-year-old who wants me to play pretend with her. Of course I will be the lion, Freja, of course I will. Roar!
:: wishing you a lovely day filled with beautiful moments.
We celebrated Sage’s birthday this past Friday. My sweet little girl turned nine. Nine years old and completely amazing. I am not very often found without words, but somehow this child and her spirit humble me everyday. I sit in awe of her. She requires an extraordinary mother and I am doing my very best to be the mother she needs each and every day. This is not easy. Some days I feel like I have risen up and succeeded, other days I feel like I have fallen down low and completely failed – that is the way of this parenting thing, I suppose. Sage and I are figuring this out as we go, one day at a time.
What an amazing journey we are on together.
My sweet Sage overflows with abundant energy, fearless creativity and an unparalleled ability to live in the present moment. She is smart and funny and truly kind. She is a natural leader and the first to take a stand against injustice. She twirls her hair and is always the first one up in the morning. She and I are so alike, but still so very, very different. She sings silly songs all the time.
Sage has wholeheartedly embraced our new, simpler lifestyle and took an unusually long time to think about how she wanted to celebrate her birthday this year. After serious deliberation, she finally revealed her birthday requests and again, I was left in awe of how perfectly in tune she is with herself. She knows exactly what makes her happy – a skill I am still trying to figure out. She decided that turning nine required a very chocolate cake, one friend to spend the night – so they could camp in the basement, eat fish tacos and roast marshmallows – and her very own blog. She explained to me that she wanted good food, a good friend and her very own space to create in. Well, then.
The chocolate cake was a dairy-free gluten-free delight and the fish tacos were delicious. She was thrilled with the unexpected gifts of a brand new journal for jotting down all of her blogging ideas and her very own memory card to use in our old point and shoot camera. She hasn’t stopped snapping pictures since! Her blog is in the works and will be revealed to you soon. She is taking this new responsibility very seriously and has been writing and editing with intensity. I can not wait to see what she has been up to.
It was a simple birthday celebration and it was perfectly Sage. We ate good food, we played, we laughed, and we honored Sage and all that she adds to our family. I would not be the mother, nor the person, I am today without her in my life. She has helped me to learn and stretch and grow in so many unexpected ways. I love you so much my amazing daughter. Happy ninth birthday dear, dear Sage.
Somehow, within all of the chaotic business that happens during our mornings – the hunting for homework and packing of lunches and rushing out the door – it was discovered that Sage’s dear mice, Squeakers and Cheese, had passed away in the night. They had plenty of food and fresh water, their cage had been recently tended to. Their deaths seem to be the kind that happen in the natural course of life. Their little lives were lived at such an accelerated pace they were only with us for a few short months. These little furry companions were what Sage wanted the very, very most as her special holiday present this year. Oh, sweet Sage. My little lover of all things small and innocent.
This sad discovery was made just moments after Sage blew me a kiss and ran out the door to take on her day, but before her brother and younger sister were ready to head off for theirs. My heart sank. I knew this sequence of events presented a situation that could potentially end in tragedy. This kind of news needs to be delivered gently. This is not the type of loss she should learn about from the mouths of her also grieving siblings. We quickly communicated to the school staff what had happened and we all agreed that she should be kept separate from her brother and sister during the normal happenings of their school days. They don’t usually have the opportunity to talk to one another, but all of the adults took extra care to ensure there was no way for her to hear this news from anyone but us. To their credit, the staff even called me at home this afternoon to make sure that I would be meeting Sage at her classroom door to facilitate the inevitable moment when she would learn of her loss.
I sat in a chair near her classroom and waited with Freja at my side. I watched her pack up her belongings and hug her teacher goodbye. Willow found us waiting and waited with us. I knew that the first thing her little sisters would want to talk about would be the death of Squeakers and Cheese, so I didn’t have the luxury of waiting until we were safely tucked away at home. I told her right away. It made my heart break to look into her eyes and break hers. I told her that they had passed away and her face immediately fell blank. Then the tears began to well up, then they began to fall, and fall and fall. I just held her and let her feel the deep sadness that overcame her.
As we slowly walked home, I watched her move through the stages of grief with grace and purity of heart. She didn’t hesitate, not even for a single moment, before completely letting go and surrendering to her pain. She cried, she hugged her friends who spoke the comforting words eight-year-olds know. She raged at the injustice of such a short time together and spoke of her sadness and longing. We found our way inside and she found her way to the art table. Sage creates, it’s what she does. She wrote a letter of love and goodbye as tears continued to roll off her soft flushed cheeks.
Earlier in the afternoon Freja and I had prepared a small grave under one of the beautiful flowering trees behind our house. When Sage was ready we solemnly moved outside in our small funeral procession. One of Sage’s friends joined us on the way and quietly placed a black bonnet atop Sage’s head as a sign of mourning. Sage said a few words and held them for the last time. She tucked them gently into their earthy grave and covered them with care. The children drifted away and I left Sage to say her final goodbyes. She says she prayed for them.
As a parent it’s so hard to watch your child hurt. It’s hard to know what to do in those inevitable moments of pain that punctuate childhood. Today I simply chose to let her lead, to let her show me what she needed. I didn’t say much other than, “I love you” and “I’m so sorry.”
As I scribe these last few words I can hear laughter drifting in through the front windows. It’s warm enough to turn the hose on and all of the children in the neighborhood have gathered out front to splash and scream and giggle. Sage is right in the thick of it. I envy her ability to let herself sink deeply into the depths of pain and loss one moment, then bob right back up and regain her sense of joy and wonder in the next. She teaches me so much.
Rest peacefully Squeakers and Cheese.
A Poem For Mama
When you feel bad
I feel bad too
My brain is full of icky goo
I have germs in my tummy
No food seems to look yummy
But Funny Bone
you can out-medicine the evil health thief
Medicines to and fro now
There is no bad way to go now
Such sweet and wise and loving words from my child, my Sagie.
The last time I met with the doctor who is guiding me through my journey with Lyme Disease, we agreed that after I finished my current course of antibiotics I would take a small break from them – a break meant to last only a few days as trial to see how my body responds, to evaluate where I am in my treatment.
I took my last dose Sunday night. It’s been downhill from there. Today I am in a full-fledged Lyme flare. My head aches, my body aches, my stomach is uneasy, my thoughts are muddled and circular. Ugh.
Upon finding me in this state after school Sage disappeared for a few long minutes. She usually processes loudly and openly, so this was unusual for her. I wondered in my foggy mind what she was up to.
She was writing me this beautiful poem.
She somehow found the words to express exactly where I am at today. My body feels low, ground down and achy, but my spirit is still resilient and full of hope. Sage has a way of seeing to the truth of me – straight to my soul – so her words reassured me. I am going to be okay. I do believe that I will rise above this mysterious disease. In time, in time.
Because of how I am feeling today I now know that I am not ready to be off of the antibiotics. Not yet. That’s okay. I see my doctor on Thursday and we will reevaluate my situation. Perhaps a new antibiotic, or several of them. Maybe a new supplement or two. An elimination diet to fine-tune my nutrition? Maybe we finally need to seriously consider IV treatment. I feel like I am ready to get down and dirty. I am ready to get to the tough stuff. Lyme, you have met your match.
I will breathe and move through this, as I have before. With renewed energy and the love of my sweet girl Lyme doesn’t stand a chance.
The infection rate of Lyme Disease is now outpacing that of HIV/AIDS, it is often misdiagnosed, and it is found everywhere in the United States. In some studies, fewer than 15% of those infected ever remember being bitten by a tick. It is so very important to become informed so that you can take the necessary measures to protect yourself and your family. The International Lyme and Associated Disease Society has a wealth of information available on their website. I strongly encourage you to empower yourself. Lyme Disease has changed the course of my life. Please, get informed!
As the sun began to drop, they took a moment to break from the busy day, get cleaned up and to don their finest attire. Two little red-heads twirled in their fancy swirly sparkly dresses, braids in their hair, the palest of pink slippers wrapped around their precious toes. One big bearded Papa shrugged on his rough brown tunic, his worn leather belt and his most swarthy grin. Headed off to a dance together, a father and daughter affair – Princesses and Pirates. An evening to be filled with music, smiles and giggles. Silly fun.
It is the moments like these, these rare and cherished moments, that reveal the innocent nature of pure, uncomplicated childhood. My beautiful daughters glowing in the warm attention of their Papa. A few droplets of perfume transporting them to a far off land of fantasy, princesses and fairies, pirates and stormy seas. Their eyes sparkling, their cheeks flushed, their bodies full to over-flowing with joy and anticipation. Their smiles honest and sincere.
Open hearted love. Simple joy. Magic.
I often do not have any idea if I am doing the right thing as a mother, as their mother. I try, I’m sure too hard at times, to give my children the gift of a gentle childhood. To push away the ugly truth of the world from them for a while longer, to create a soft place. All too soon they will learn of the heartbreak and sorrow, the harshness and bitter cold of the larger world. For now though, for these few precious years, I am trying to create a quiet buffer around them from the strange world of grown-up concerns. This is what feels right to me.
I don’t want to shelter my children. Please don’t misunderstand. My intention is not to leave them unprepared for the world that is waiting for them. I don’t want their lives away from me to be scary or disorienting or overwhelming. No, my intention is only to keep them secure and safe and within reach just long enough that their souls, their spirits, have all the time they require to stretch up fully toward the sun and to burrow deep down sinking sturdy roots. I want to nurture their unique being so it can fill up their little bodies, from their eyelashes to the very soles of their feet, leaving no room for self-doubt or insecurity to seep in. I want them to gradually run farther and farther in front of me, but not so far ahead that they can’t see me if they need to look back for reassurance. I want them grounded in our family.
The trials and strife of any life well-lived waits for them – this I know. They will spend the whole of their adult lives bending and twisting in the harsh elements of reality. I want to give them the tools they will need to seek wide and far, to search without fear, for their special bliss. To find their own path. I want to allow them this time in childhood to get to know themselves fully, as fully as one can in youth, before we separate ourselves from one another.
Why, oh why would I ever rush them? Why would I ever push them forward? Why would I ever want to shorten this enchanted time? I would not. I will not.
I want them to linger here in childhood. To wander around in this sacred space, filling up their days with imagination and discovery, with fantasy and play. I want them to get bored and to dream. I want them to roll down grassy hills and to play in sun soaked waves. I want them to melt snowflakes on their tongues and to hop around in pillow cases. I want them to make noise and get dirty, even if it makes me crazy. I want them to sing and giggle and dance. I want them to dance with abandon, hearts wide open to the sky just like they did on this night.
This one magical night.